Anxiety

Elle attended the screening interview with her mom and dad. She wore a ski cap, appeared anxious and had difficulty maintaining eye contact. When answering the director's questions, she responded quietly and briefly. Elle's parents said that she was having a difficult time attending school, making friends and playing outside. She was afraid of bees and didn't want to go on the playground because she might get stung. Elle's parents reported that she was also pulling out her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. Elle became very upset and didn't want to talk about this. The director focused on Elle's interests. She loved to draw and sing. When told that Quest had a group of girls her age who liked to play, do arts and crafts project, sing and act, Elle became interested. After hearing about how she could earn points, just for trying, Elle became excited and said she wanted to learn to handle her anxiety better.

Elle was quite nervous the first day she came to camp. She was quickly introduced to her counselors who had the girls playing a game. Each girl had a nametag and each was asked to draw her favorite animal on her nametag. Several of the girls asked Elle what she was going to draw. Elle loved snails so she began talking about how cute they were. Other girls shared their animal pictures. During the morning activity, the group went out on the grass field to play latch tag. Elle was very frightened. She couldn't walk on to the grass. Her counselor told her she was proud that she tried and she didn't have to go there today. Elle sat in the shade and watched the girls play. Elle's counselor came over every 10 minutes to see how she was feeling. Elle felt safe and stood near the grass to look for bees. While her anxiety increased, Elle knew she didn't have to go out there. She was starting to relax when the counselor told her about how she could learn to relax. She focused on how to breathe slowly and count 4 seconds for each breath. Elle felt calmer and realized her counselor knew lots of things. Elle received points for trying to "take a risk" even though she didn't play the game.

In group, the director was trying to get each girl to talk about each one's best memory and scariest. Elle could recall many scary ones but finally remembered how much fun she had on a vacation with her family. She shared that and when she thought she was all alone in the house in the middle of the night. The director shared his experiences of being scared and how he learned to feel better. The girls learned several ways to deal with fear. They practiced deep relaxation. Elle felt so much better and realized she could do things to help herself. The next day, Elle tried to step out on the field even though she was afraid of the bees. She remembered the relaxation exercises she learned yesterday and felt better, She still was uncomfortable but she was proud of taking a risk.

Each day of every week at camp, Elle took more risks. She learned to sing the group's song and do their cheer. She received the Camper of the Day award for trying the hardest and she was able to play with the other girls on the field. Elle was also trying to use the relaxation exercises instead of pulling her hair out. As she progressed, she became more confident and knew she has control of her anxiety.